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Expected Roundess of Freshwater Pearls


New member
Hello everyone,

This is my first time posting, so please be kind. I purchased a set of 8.5 to 9 mm freshwater pearl necklace, "gem quality" from a vendor on here. I was expecting perfectly rounded, matching pearls with a high degree of luster.
It was expected to by my wife's Christmas present. When I received the pearls, I noticed that the pearls were not perfectly matching.

the pearls in the back are noticibly smaller than the ones in the front some pearls were slightly oblong in shape, not perfectly rounded.

under room lighting, the luster even looks kind of fake, a dull plastic look

I took some pictures, and I apologize if I am not an expert photographer. My question is, if I am looking for high luster, spherical pearls, what kind should I be buying? My wife is very demanding, the "best or nothing" kind of person unfortunately.

Thank you everyone


Pearl Dreams

Pearl Enthusiast
Hi msheng,

I'll try to address your questions. Short answer: I think you will want to get akoya pearls instead of FWP.

1. Roundness. Freshwater pearls that don't have a bead nucleus are, for the most part, not going to be 100% round. Gem grade freshwaters will be closer to round than lower grades, and will usually look round from the usual viewing distance when worn. If you want 100% round (and many people do) you should get akoya pearls instead.

2. Luster. The black background of the box just swallows up luster. Pearls should ideally be judged on a white background. Also, freshwater pearls are cultured in warmer waters than akoyas. This leads to the formation of larger nacre crystals, resulting in a softer luster. (Think larger pixels leading to lower resolution.) If you want a harder, sharper luster, you should get akoyas.

3. Sizes. Even in a non-graduated necklace like yours there will be smaller and larger pearls, all within the stated range. It is common for necklaces to be strung so that the larger pearls are in front and the smaller ones are nearer the clasp.

Andrew M

New member
It might just be the camera, but to be entirely fair to me some of the pearls look a little more off round than I'd suspect from a "gem grade."

My mother's triple strand necklace is Freshwater pearls, albeit smaller, and they look rounder up close. In any case, Like PD above says, if you want truly round ones you're looking at Akoya, but for what it's worth from any reasonable distance the freshwater pearls will look round regardless. "The best" for pearls might mean a lot of things. Most durable? Freshwater pearls without a doubt, since they are (usually) not bead nucleated and instead entirely nacre whereas Akoya pearls are not. Must lustrous? -- Akoya can't be beat. Roundness -- Akoya. Do you know that 8.5-9.0mm is the size your wife wants? If you go smaller in Freshwater, the off-roundness won't be nearly as noticeable.

That said, since your wife is "the best or nothing," as you say, then Akoya seem to be the only way to go -- or white south sea, if you could swing the cost. But, for 95% of budgets, a nice Akoya pearl necklace would be the way to go.
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New member
I have to agree that the shape and lustre are not what one might expect from a 'gem grade' . I don't mind 'near round' but those look more 'off round ' I'm not sure they would even look round to the eye.

Sadly you cannot count on 'grades' assigned by a seller - if you read on this forum about grading you will see that it's not standardised really but up to the seller to call them whatever they want. One persons AAA is another persons AA . I'd send them back and try some Akoya as Andrew suggested - there you will get very round and good lustre. Take a look at some Akoya somewhere else.


New member
msheng, welcome. I agree with everyone else; I would return this necklace and look at an Akoya pearl strand.


New member
msheng, the best of the best in that size round pearls are the akoyas called Hanadama. They come with a certificate verifying their authenticity. They are as near perfect as you can get (when you are not considering white South Seas, which are truly the best but come with a steep price due to their rareness).


New member
Thank you everyone! I hope to get this resolved. I really appreciate your kind words, and great eye!


Active member
Welcome to pearl-guide, msheng! I agree with the others, if you want round flawless pearls with sharp luster, go for the akoyas!